Backstory podcast: “Thar she blows – The history of whales and America”

Today, I would like to introduce you to the historical radio program and podcast “backstory”, which did run between 2008 and 2020. Ayers, Brian Balogh, Peter Onuf, Joanne Freeman and Nathan Connolly gathered a variety of topics from the news and “explored its roots through the American past”.1

Despite the fact that the podcast no longer produces any episodes, they maintained a detailed archive of all episodes and provided a wide variety of topics around the whaling industry. I would like to invite you to listen or to read some of them. The two podcasts episodes are accompanied by transcripts and are separated into different segments too. I have taken the liberty to show you my favourites.

Selected segments from part 1: Thar she blows – 31.July 2019

In segment two, “built on Greasy Luck”2, they interviewed Michael Dyer, who is the curator of the New Bedford whaling museum.

Segment four concerns the role of Native Americans in the whaling industry, and is accompanied by an interview of Prof. Dr. Nancy Shoemaker and Ramona Peters of the Mashepee Wampanoags.3

Selected segments from part 2: Thar she blows again – 2. August 2019

In segment two, “Paul Cuffee, Black whaler and self-made Man”4, they talk with Jeffrey Fortin about Paul Cuffee.

Segment five of the second part is devoted to the role of women onboard of whaling ships5 and invited Anita Duneer as well as Navine Khan-Dossos to talk about those women, who dressed as men in order to join a whaling ship.

Listening in particular to the last segment, reminded me strikingly of the research blog of PD Dr. Simon Karstens.6 His research blog is a great addition to the topics, covered in the podcast.

Enjoy listening, and you are welcome to listen to the others as well!

  1. About, in:, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  2. Built on greasy Luck, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  3. ‘I killed Moby Dick’ in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  4. Paul Cuffee, Black whaler and self-made Man, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  5. Sisters of the Sea, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  6. Identifying Maritime Women in the Age of Sail, in:, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []

January month is Moby-Dick Marathon month – This year with Taylor Schilling!

If you read this blog regularly, you might remember the title of this entry. Last year, in January 2022, I spoke for the first time about the Moby Dick Marathon, which takes place every year in New Bedford.1

The annual “Moby Dick Marathon” is a reading of Herman Melville’s novel “Moby-Dick” that takes place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The event typically lasts for about 26 hours, with members of the community taking turns reading aloud from the novel. The marathon is a way of celebrating the city’s rich literary and maritime heritage.

Participants in the marathon can sign up to read for a specific time slot, and the event is open to the public, so anyone can come and listen to the reading. The marathon has become a popular event in the New Bedford community, attracting a diverse group of participants and listeners. This year, the New Bedford Whaling Museum was able to invite Taylor Schilling to inaugurate the Reading Marathon of 2023. She is an Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress. You can find more information on the Museum’s website and the full Reading Marathon of 2023 YouTube clip here, at least a part of it.

  1. Hussein, Haureh (2022): January Month is Moby Dick Marathon Month, in: Transoceanic Voyages,, [Last Access: 17.1.2023]. []

January month is Moby-Dick Marathon month

Hello everybody, I hope this finds you very well, and you had a great start into the new year of 2022. Foremost, I want to thank those of you, who regularly visit and read this blog, I appreciate both your attention and interest.

Those, who read and follow this research blog for a while, might have wondered already, when I would finally come to talk about Moby Dick for the first time. While I missed the bicentennial anniversary of Herman Melville some years ago in 1st August 2019, now I think there is a good occasion to talk of this famous novel now. In January 1997, the New Bedford Whaling museum began to invite people to come together, so that each person can read a chapter for almost two days at the beginning of the year.

New Bedford Whaling Museum – Private Picture – 26.04.2019.

As you can imagine, this event comes not only with a lot of fun and enjoyment, but usually brings a lot of people together and due to Covid restrictions however the 2021 as well as the 2022 Moby Dick Marathons have been pursued entirely virtual. In order to give you an impression of how it looks like, the New Bedford whaling museum staff had asked people worldwide and so collected and gathered an 25 hours video recording, which lasts almost as long as it would physically last, if you want to read Moby Dick on a constant base.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum had uploaded the whole reading marathon in several pieces:

From Introduction to Chapter 42

From Chapter 43 to Chapter 88

From Chapter 89 to Chapter 132

From Chapter 133 to Epilogue

At this page here, you can find the complete list of each person, who read the chapters. Apart from the English chapters, some chapters were double read in different languages. Chapter 10A, 10B, 41B, 83, 94 and 109 in Portuguese language, and Chapter 51 in German language.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search